Many Cuyahoga County voters still believe they will receive absentee ballot applications by mail this fall, despite a much-publicized decision by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to ban unsolicited mailings by boards of elections.
A nonprofit group distributing thousands of ballot applications across the county reported this week that a majority of the people contacted the last three weekends knew little or nothing about Husted’s ruling and were expecting to receive applications in the mail. “We have a major problem here,” said Norman Robbins, research director of the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates.
Husted, a Republican, imposed the mailing ban in August, triggering a weeks-long showdown with Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat.
FitzGerald threatened to circumvent Husted’s ban by having the county mail applications this year. But the executive rescinded his plan in September, when Husted promised to send applications to all Ohio voters during the 2012 presidential election.
The dispute received extensive media coverage, including at least a half-dozen stories and two editorials by The Plain Dealer. But the days of back-and-forth further confused voters, said Carol Gibson, co-president of the Cuyahoga Area League of Women Voters.
“It did give people a sense that everything had been worked out, if you’re just listening with half an ear,” Gibson said.